Wednesday, September 03, 2008


THE TWIN GIANTS by Dick King Smith, illustrated by Mini Grey (Candlewick)

Once upon a mountain, there lived two brother giants. Twin brothers, in fact, something that's rare amon giants. When the first one was born, his giant father looked at the baby and said..."Isn't he e-nor-mous!" And when the second one arrived, his giant mother looked at the huge baby and said..."There's a-lot-uv-'im!"
So begins the romantic misadventures of Lottavim and Normis, two chummy big boys who travel from mountain to mountain in search of suitable brides. Frustrations and folkloric tomfoolery abound as one vegetarian brother encounters a curvaceous carnivore and the meat-eating man meets up with a macrobiotic missus, but when the brothers try to switch dates, the ladies can't tell them apart and refuse them both on grounds of incompatibility. When the brothers finally meet the girl of both of their dreams, will there be enough of her to go around? By the author of BABE, THE GALLANT PIG, this master storyteller's sense of humor quells any questionable mush ("There were of course plenty of girls of marriageable age in the rich and fertile valley below, but neither twin was the least bit interested in such midgets, mostly less than five and a half feet tall"). Illustrations are appropriately colorful and chunky, with diverse and animated layouts, making it an attractive pick for both the picture book set as well as the child reaching for first chapter books. Children, living in a world of veritable giants, can be depended upon to enjoy a tale where bigger isn't always better; pair with Mordicai Gerstein's CAROLINDA CLATTER or the hilarious "How Big Mouth Wrestled the Giant" from DIANE GOODE'S BOOK OF GIANTS AND LITTLE PEOPLE for big belly laughs. This jolly read-aloud with an unabashedly happy ending will leave readers with a giant-sized smile and a belief that yes, there probably really is someone out there for everyone. (5 and up)

Also of interest:
More fun from a fairy-tale world!
KENNY AND THE DRAGON by Tony DiTerlizzi (Simon & Schuster) A chapter book, read-aloud retooling of Kenneth Grahame's The RELUCTANT DRAGON in which Kenneth, a bunny, has to stage a faux fight with his friend Grahame, a dragon, in order to satisfy the bloodthirsty horde. This slim volume is prettily packaged, from the gold-gilded lettering on the cover to the plethora of elegantly detailed pencil drawings stylistically reminiscent of early Wallace Tripp (for case in point, see A GREAT BIG UGLY MAN CAME UP AND TIED HIS HORSE TO ME...could somebody please explain how on earth could a children's book with such a title could ever go out of print?). The original story, with a plot that endured, unfortunately had a language that did not; the classic's erudite lingo belabors the average bear. Thanks to this more modern but still magical treatment by The Spiderwick Chronicles collaborator, bookish boys will find a kindred spirit, and a new generation will get a chance to encounter these inventive ambassadors of peaceful solutions. (7 and up)

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